Are there alternatives to Carfax?
Carfax is the largest vehicle-history report provider in the United States. The company was founded in 1984 by Ewin Barnett III. By 1986, the startup worked with a number of automotive dealers. These dealers were primarily interested in vehicle-history reports to help them determine the value of auction cars and the value of cars being traded in by consumers. The original Carfax reports were ordered and delivered by fax. In the early-1990s, Carfax began touting its service as a tool for consumers. In 1996, it launched Carfax.com, a portal where consumers and dealers alike can order Carfax reports for any vehicle with a VIN.
Carfax’s large database of title data make it a helpful tool for consumes. By obtaining a Carfax report, a consumer can determine if a vehicle has been wrecked or involved in an insurance claims. In some cases, he can determine a vehicle’s service history.
However, Carfax is far from perfect. As some consumers have discovered, its vehicle history reports are not always 100 percent accurate. If a vehicle is repaired at a low-key or amateur body shop, for example, Carfax may never receive the report; this would lead to a vehicle with a clean Carfax report that has actually been wrecked and repaired. Are there alternatives to Carfax?
AutoCheck is a division of Experian Automotive. Experian is a nationwide leader in consumer-credit reports, similar to Equifax or Transunion. Autocheck reports, according to the Experian website, are 10 percent less expensive than Carfax reports. The company also claims to offer a more comprehensive report that features auction data, a feature that Carfax lacks. AutoCheck is a viable alternative to Carfax. It is the official history provider for the NADA (National Auto Dealer’s Association).
AutoCheck vehicle-history reports also contain a unique “AutoCheck Score,” which analyzes various data to provide the consumer with a vehicle grade ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best.
VinCheck is a service provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). This organization is a non-profit agency that works closely with law enforcement to combat insurance-related fraud. The VinCheck features is a public service; it differs from Carfax and AutoCheck because the vehicle-history reports are free. However, the reports are not as thorough as Carfax or AutoCheck reports. For example, a VinCheck report will not reveal the number of owners a vehicle has had, or whether it’s been involved in an accident or not. What it will reveal is if the vehicle has a salvage title and if it’s ever been reported as stolen. Although VinCheck is not as comprehensive as the other services, it remains a vital tool because it allows consumers who cannot afford a traditional history report to determine if a vehicle has a salvage title.
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